Gulf stocks mixed as markets remain volatile
KUWAIT CITY - Stock markets in most Gulf Arab states shed most of the gains they made at the start of trading Monday to close lower or flat following days of heavy losses.
The biggest loser was the Saudi Tadawul All-Shares Index, the largest Arab bourse, which dropped below the 8,000-point mark for the first time since September 2013.
Starting the day in positive territory, TASI plunged in the last hour of trading to end down 2.64 percent on 7,904.91 points. All 15 sectors in the market ended lower.
The latest drop comes after days of heavy losses by the Saudi and other Gulf bourses triggered by the plunge in the price of oil, mainstay of the region's finances.
Dubai Financial Market, the Gulf's most volatile bourse which has plunged more than 25 percent in the past two weeks, opened Monday up more than five percent, but shed all its gains to end almost flat on 3,325.49 points below last year's close.
Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange also opened 3.2 percent up but finished trading down 0.7 percent on 4,180.76 points, way below last year's close of 4,290.0 points.
Markets have remained volatile, fluctuating sharply during the day following weeks of plunging oil prices that impacted Gulf markets which lost almost all gains posted in 2014.
"Markets have been volatile because of one of the steepest and fastest decline in oil prices. That has caused and spread panic among investors," M.R. Raghu, head of research at the Kuwait Financial Centre (MARKAZ), said.
"As a result, investors have been very nervous," leading to market volatility, he said.
The small markets of Oman and Bahrain dropped 0.9 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
However, Qatar and Kuwait bucked the trend.
Qatar Exchange, the Gulf's second largest, maintained its gains to close a healthy 3.1 percent up on 11,460.02 points.
Kuwait Stock Exchange gained 0.44 percent to close on 6,302.12 points.
World oil prices rebounded slightly Monday from fresh five-year lows amid stubborn worries over weak global crude demand, boosting European stock markets.
In midday London deals, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January was up 26 cents at $58.07 a barrel, after earlier slumping to $56.25 -- the lowest level since May 18, 2009.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January gained 55 cents to $62.40 a barrel, having earlier tumbled to $60.28 -- last seen on July 13, 2009.